InsideFlyer has a free web access article on Hotel Loyalty Elite Comparisons across more than 25 loyalty programs.  February’s issue features part one of the article and March will feature part two as the cover story. I am not the writer of this article, although I did provide some comments for the rough draft. This article motivated me to expand my loyalty program coverage as I recognized some great benefits in programs I rarely evaluate. I encourage you to look over the charts and information in the Hotel Loyalty Elite Comparisons.

I have been writing a monthly column for Randy Petersen’s InsideFlyer magazine for nearly two years. My column is always original content that has not appeared on this Loyalty Traveler blog. My monthly column is also a free web access feature of InsideFlyer. I have links to all my InsideFlyer columns on the Ric Garrido page of my blog.  

Categorically speaking, I am predicting two steps up and one step back.

I am sharing my latest InsideFlyer column at the end of this post. The start of the 2011 year saw the return of Starwood Preferred Guest peak season hotel reward dates for category 5, 6 and 7 hotels after a two year absence. My column addresses the return of SPG peak season awards.

February and March are the months when we typically see hotel categories adjusted for the calendar year. Considering Marriott and Hilton raised category levels in 2010 for many of their upper end hotels in the midst of a two year recession does not bode well for this year’s hotel reward category changes.

Starwood made no attempt to lower hotel reward category levels last year; a move to be expected after several consecutive years of rapid rises from 2003 to 2008 attributed to rising average room rates. For some reason when room rates plummeted in 2009, the SPG hotel award category assignments did not follow suit. Granted there was an overall downward movement in SPG category assignment in 2009, but that was a small concession from SPG not repeated again in 2010. Here is my March 2010 article on Hilton HHonors hotel category shift and my April 2010 InsideFlyer column regarding hotel category assignments for 2010 with particular focus on SPG.

So what do the next two months have in store for hotel category shift?

Yesterday, the Washington Post ran an article citing positive economic indicators as a sign that hotel rates will climb in 2011. Higher rates are anticipated to rise disproportionately for business travelers relative to leisure travelers.

What I think this means is the leisure traveler is going to be screwed if needing a city center hotel during midweek business days or weekend conventions. We find ourselves back in 2007 mode where business travelers are gouged and leisure travelers are shut out with high prices for big city midweek hotels.

Fortunately there will still be opportunities for the flexible traveler who goes where the deals are located. And loyalty programs become even more vital in stretching your hotel dollars.

 

February 2011 InsideFlyer magazine Loyalty Traveler column:

Scaling Peaks of High Category Hotel Awards

SPG reinstituted peak season dates for Starwood Preferred Guest hotel rewards at 65 percent of its category 5, 6 and 7 hotels for 2011 and 2012. Over 100 Starwood hotels have peak season dates. Some hotels like the category 5 Westin Verasa Napa and Four Points Manhattan Chelsea have four months of 2011 peak season dates at 16,000 points per night.

Peak season dates master list: https://spgpromos.com/highseason

Earning Free Award Nights

SPG is an outlier among hotel programs for the amount of hotel spend needed for a free night at a high category hotel–even without peak season rates. SPG altered its hotel award structure over the past decade, adding category 6 and category 7 hotel award levels. A similar pattern of new higher category awards played out across the hotel loyalty world in the past few years including Marriott category 8, Hyatt category 6, Hilton category 7 and Priority Club tiers for Holiday Inn and InterContinental brands.

The structure for earning points is the most stable aspect of hotel loyalty schemes. Base points are loyalty points earned per dollar of hotel spend before any promotion or elite bonuses. The base points earn rate for SPG is 2 points/$1. Hyatt uses 5 points/$1. The standard for most major hotel programs is 10 points/$1.

Scaling High Category Awards

An interesting pattern emerges when base points earned per dollar are correlated to the cost of award nights at various category levels in different hotel programs. The amount of hotel spend needed to earn sufficient points for a free night at the highest award levels is similar across hotel programs–except Starwood Hotels.

Marriott Rewards highest category 8 hotel nights are 40,000 points. Earning 40,000 base points requires $4,000 in hotel spend. Priority Club top-tier InterContinental Hotels at 40,000 points take $4,000 in base spend. Lower earning brands at 5 points/$1 are ignored in this analysis. Hyatt Gold Passport category 6 awards at 22,000 points per night equate to $4,400. Hilton HHonors category 7 hotels at 50,000 points range from $3,334 in hotel spend for Points & Points earners to $5,000 for Points & Miles earners.

In contrast, earning 12,000 base points for a SPG category 5 standard hotel award requires $6,000 in spend or $8,000 for peak season nights. Starwood Preferred Guest is an outlier in this award pattern at the category 5 level, let alone SPG category 6 and 7 awards requiring 20,000 and 30,000 points for a standard free night. This correlates to $10,000 or $15,000 in hotel base spend.

HHonors and Marriott Rewards also have higher cost award nights for some Waldorf Astoria and Ritz-Carlton properties.

A Competitive Set Comparison of Marriott and Starwood

A debatable argument is SPG program high category hotels are higher quality hotels than other chains.

Hotels in a specific location and similar hotel market segment are in the same competitive set. Hotels in different chains but the same competitive set tend to have room rates on any given day within about 10 percent of each other.

St. Regis New York and Ritz-Carlton Central Park are two New York City luxury hotels in the same competitive set. Both hotels had an identical room rate of $895 per night for June 7, 2011 when I checked.

St. Regis New York is a category 7 SPG award hotel at 30,000 points for a standard free night. SPG members need $15,000 in hotel spend to earn 30,000 base points. Ritz-Carlton New York Central Park is the highest tier 5 hotel award at 70,000 points for a free night. Marriott Rewards members need $7,000 in hotel spend to earn 70,000 base points. Marriott Rewards members earn two free nights for the same level of spend the SPG member earns one night at the St. Regis. And this is without peak season rates at the St. Regis raising the price to 35,000 points per night for part of December 2011.

Comparing award nights using base points value ignores key points-earning components for loyalty members: elite bonuses, promotions and co-branded credit cards. SPG has a slight advantage at the Gold level with 50 percent elite bonus points. Other programs offer 10 to 25 percent bonus at mid-level elite. SPG’s elite advantage is lost at the SPG Platinum level where most programs match 50 percent elite bonus points for top-tier elites.

SPG needs high-value promotions to compensate for an uncompetitive award scheme at high category hotels. Bridging the hotel spend gap of $4,000 to $7,000 to earn the highest awards in most programs with $6,000 to $17,500 for SPG awards necessitates better promotions than double points on stays. Otherwise, high category SPG hotel awards are geared more for high-spend SPG credit card points earners than frequent guests.

Choice Privileges has a new member referral offer for 500 points. This deal rewards both the existing Choice Privileges member who makes the referral and the new member who receives 500 bonus points after first hotel stay. That is equivalent to the bonus points for $50 in hotel spend.

I’ll be your referrer, if you want a referral.

If you would like a Choice Privileges referral and 500 bonus points after your first stay, then email me at ricgarridolt@gmail.com and include only your first name.

All I need for this Choice Privileges Refer-a-Friend is your email and first name to include in the form shown below.

Choice Privileges refer-a-friend form

 

I pledge not to use your email for any other purpose than filling out this form. My ricgarridolt@gmail.com email account is only used for Loyalty Traveler promotions and then I delete all the emails after the promotion ends. Do not use this email for contacting me for any other purpose. You will find my contact email on this page.

Choice Privileges Overview 

When your travel budget does not fit the price segment of Marriott Courtyard and Residence Inn, Hilton Hampton Inn or IHG Holiday Inn Express, then Choice Privileges has a loyalty program with good rewards benefits at a lower price point. And if price is your main factor you should look right past Starwood and Hyatt Hotels with limited low cost hotels for weekday business travel.

One of my favorite features of Choice Privileges is its partner awards with Preferred Hotels Group and Barcelo Resorts. These can be high value reward stays at relatively low cost through Choice Privileges. A recently ended promotion offered 50% off reward nights using Choice Privileges points for Preferred Hotels Group stays. These upper-upscale and luxury hotels around the world are sometimes an incredible Choice Privileges points bargain.

Barcelo Resorts offers all-inclusive Mexico and Caribbean hotel stays at relatively few points for what you get. Dreams of an all-you-can-eat-and-drink beach vacation may fill your head as you fall asleep at the next Comfort Inn.

That is what I am dreaming as I write this post and think of the possibility of a couple hundred referrals. Although I must admit that 500 points incentive is not as desirable as last year’s offer on Loyalty Traveler for instant SPG Gold promotion with my referral. I still receive a request every week for a referral 11 months after that SPG deal ended.

Choice Privileges hotel brands with number of hotels and average daily rate

(Source: Choice Hotels 10Q Sep 30, 2010)

Choice Hotels brands and average room rates

 

Travelers will stay for less at Choice Hotels with an overall chain average hotel rate of $74.79. That is only 2 cents more than the ADR from September 2009.

Choice Privileges is currently running a triple points promotion. Here is data from my Loyalty Traveler blog Current Promotions page. Another great feature of Choice Privileges is elite stay credit for award stays. Choice Privileges and Hilton HHonors are the only two loyalty programs for earning elite credit when spending points for free nights.

Choice HotelsChoice Privileges

Hotel Brands: Comfort Inn, Comfort Suites, Quality, Sleep Inn, Clarion, Cambria Suites, MainStay Suites, Suburban, EconoLodge, Rodeway Inn, Ascend Collection.

Hotel Reward Partners: Preferred Hotels Group, Barcelo Resorts  

* Jan 6 – March 2, 2011: Choice Hotels Triple Points beginning with second stay for online bookings or phone direct bookings at 800-4CHOICE (800-424-6423). Offer only eligible for USA members. Platinum and Diamond elite members earn an additional 500 bonus points per stay. General and Gold elite members earn double points for stays booked through third-party sites. Registration required.

Loyalty Traveler post 1-4-11.  

* Choice Privileges Program Changes for Elite Members effective January 1, 2011:

These are truly program enhancements for elites. 

Platinum elite qualification = 20 nights in a calendar year (formerly 25 nights).

Diamond elite bonus increased to 50% base points (formerly 40%).

        Reward night booking window extended for Choice Privileges elite members:

  • Gold = 50 days (formerly 40 days)
  • Platinum = 75 days (formerly 60 days)
  • Diamond = 100 days (formerly 90 days) 

 

* Dec 1, 2010 – February 28, 2011: Choice Privileges offers Air Berlin TopBonus Double Miles

 

Preferred Hotels Group Reward Nights up to 50% off. Upper-upscale, luxury and boutique hotel room nights 20,000 to 30,000 points. Book between November 3, 2010 and January 19, 2011. (5-key promotion). This offer has ended, but this seems like a nearly annual promotion at some point during the year.

Related Post: Choice Hotels for Economy Rates, Choice Privileges for Luxury Hotels (July 14, 2009)

Comments are off for this article

GHA Discovery is the new hotel loyalty program representing 12 hotel brands in the Global Hotel Alliance. These hotel brands together have around 300 hotels in 48 countries primarily among the upper-upscale and luxury segments.

GHA Discovery is not a points-based loyalty program, although members may earn miles for hotels stays. GHA Discovery is a customer recognition loyalty program focused on the hotel stay experience. GHA Discovery is about local experience awards rather than free nights. The database of over 1,000 “local experience” aspirational awards is the primary loyalty program value-added feature.

GHA Discovery Hotel Brands:

  • Kempinski Hotels – 59 hotels (Europe, Middle East, Asia, Africa)
  • First Hotels – 47 hotels (Scandinavia)
  • Mirvac Hotels & Resorts – 43 hotels (Australia/New Zealand)
  • Omni Hotels and Resorts – 40 hotels (US, Mexico and Canada)
  • Pan Pacific Hotels – 16 hotels (Asia Pacific, Canada, USA)
  • Anantara Resorts – 14 hotels (Asia)
  • Tivoli Hotels and Resorts – 13 hotels (Portugal 11, Brazil 2)
  • The Doyle Collection – 11 hotels (UK, Ireland, US)
  • Marco Polo Hotels – 10 hotels (China, Asia)
  • Park Royal – 9 hotels (Singapore, Malaysia, Myanmar, Vietnam, Australia)
  • The Leela Palaces, Hotels and Resorts – 7 hotels (India)
  • Shaza Hotels – 1 hotel (new hotel brand in North Africa/Middle East with development plans for several more)

 

GHA Discovery Elite membership levels

Gold = initial and instant enrollment level.

  • Earn your first “local Experience” award after your first hotel member stay to be redeemed on a future hotel stay.
  • Earn one additional “local experience” award for each new hotel brand stayed as a Gold elite.
  • Complimentary internet
  • Complimentary one (1) bottle water at arrival
  • Complimentary newspaper

Platinum = 10 nights in a calendar year at member hotels.

  • Earn your first platinum-level “local Experience” award upon qualifying for Platinum elite.
  • Earn one additional “local experience” award for every new hotel brand you stay.
  • 48-hour guaranteed room availability
  • Upgrade to next room category (fine print states member must request upgrade at arrival)
  • Late check-out until 3pm (fine print states member must request late check-out  at arrival)
  • Local amenity

 

Black = 30 nights in a calendar year at member hotels.

  • Earn your first black-level “local Experience” award upon qualifying for Black elite.
  • Earn one additional “local experience” award for every new hotel brand you stay.
  • 24-hour guaranteed room availability
  • Double room category upgrade
  • Early check-in at 9am (must request two days before arrival)
  • Late check-out until 6pm (fine print states member must request late check-out  at arrival)

 

GHA Discovery Member Program Terms (web link)

Elite membership qualification is based on the calendar year. Once a member earns Platinum or Black elite in a calendar year, the member retains that elite level through the following calendar year.

For example, earn Black elite with 30 nights by September 2011 and the member retains Black elite membership through December 31, 2012.

  • GHA Discovery does not allow elite status match from other programs.
  • A member reaching the elite nights criteria for a higher level during a stay will receive the benefits assigned to the level at time of check-in. For example, a member with 9 nights who is on a 4-night hotel stay will only receive Gold elite benefits. Platinum elite benefits begin with next stay.
  • The additional local experience award for every new brand only applies to the first stay after program enrollment. This benefit is not an annual benefit, but rather a once in a program lifetime benefit.
  • GHA Local Experience Award credit may be received for up to two rooms per stay.

 

GHA Discovery Local Experience Awards

GHA Discovery’s website allows anyone to look at “Local Experience” award options for different membership levels. There is a database of more than 1,000 options. Here are samples of “Local Experiences”.

Local Experience awards are associated with specific hotels. Member must be a paying guest at the hotel to redeem a local experience award.

Gold Elite Local Experiences

Heritage Walk through Dubai – Kempinski Hotel Mall of the Emirates

  • Led by an Emirati guide (2 to 4 hours) available 28 June-31 December 2011.
  • Up to 4 persons. Must book at least one week in advance. 

Thai Herbal Compress – Anantara Lawana Resort, Koh Samui, Thailand

  • 2 hour class in making traditional herbal compress. 

Segway Tour of Downtown Austin Texas – Omni Austin Hotel

  • 2 to 3 hour guided tour of downtown Austin.

 

Platinum Elite Local Experiences

Seattle Sounders Ultimate Experience – Pan Pacific Seattle

  • Watch the Seattle Sounders soccer team from the stadium President’s Box and receive pre-game field access.

 Nobel Dinner – First Hotel Amaranten, Stockholm Sweden

  • 2 to 4 hours for dinner based on the official Nobel Dinner. (LT note: I had this experience in 1993 as a non-voting member of the Education International founding conference in Stockholm.)

 London Luxury Night in a Bentley – Kensington Hotel, London (Doyle Hotels)

  • 3 hour chauffer tour of London at night in a Bentley

 

Black Elite Local Experiences

High Flyer hot air balloon trip with champagne – Kempinski Atlantic Hamburg

  • Imagine a complimentary 2-hour hot air balloon ride over the countryside of Hamburg, Germany. This is an option for Black elite (30 nights in calendar year) GHA Discovery members when staying at Kempinski Hamburg.

Exclusive Access to Imperial Cuisine Restaurant – Marco Polo Parkside Hotel, Beijing

  • Dine in private rooms at the “Court Yard” in a restaurant normally only accessible to high ranking Chinese government officials.

 Private Dinner and Sunset Cruise in Arabian Sea – The Leela Kempinski Goa, India

 An evening at the Saigon River – Park Royal Saigon

 

Loyalty Traveler Analysis

My Loyalty Traveler initial analysis indicates there is high value for the member who earns Black elite with just one or two hotel brands and then maximizes local experience awards traveling to different hotel brands as a Black elite member.  

For example, a U.S. based traveler could stay 30 nights at Omni Hotels in places like San Francisco, Denver and Dallas in 2011 and earn GHA Discovery Black elite membership. In 2012 the Black elite member takes a world tour and stays at 5 to 11 other hotel brands and earns a high-value “local experience” award at each new brand. This could be thousands of dollars in added-value to your hotel stays.

Omni Interlocken Resort Colorado (between Denver and Boulder)

Cathay Pacific has a Facebook contest for unlimited economy class travel for 80 days from June through August 2011. This is a contest, not a sweepstakes, meaning you have to win the prize based on your submission of text, photo or video answering the question:

“Where in the world would you go in 80 days?”

  • Enter contest: January 24 and March 6, 2011 (Hong Kong time).
  • Judging:  March 7 – March 13, 2011.
  • Finalists interview (in Hong Kong): April 12 – April 14, 2011.
  • Unlimited Travel Period: 80 days during June 2011 – August 2011.
  • Contest eligibility to US residents of 50 states and D.C. and Canada (except Quebec). (Contest is open to residents of several other countries too.)

Cathay Pacific Travel the World in 80 Days Facebook Contest link.

Contest Submission Guidelines: There are detailed fine print rules for text, photo and video submissions in the Cathay Pacific contest terms and conditions here.

  • Text – 200 words or less recommended.
  • Photo – 640 x 480 or higher resolution; file size less than 5MB.
  • Video – 30 to 60 seconds in length; file size less than 40MB. English only and no background music, although sound effects permitted.

Judging Criteria:

  • Creativity (34%);
  • Originality (33%); and
  • Fit to Contest Theme (33%).  

Final Interview: During the Final Interview Phase, the Finalists will need to present a travel plan to the qualified judges, as well as complete on the spot exercises that demonstrate the Finalists written communication skills. The Finalists will be evaluated by a panel of qualified judges based on the following criteria (“Judging Criteria”):

  • Creativity (34%);
  • Originality (33%); and
  • Fit to Contest Theme (33%) 

Up to all eight (8) Grand Prize winners may be selected by the qualified judges, but no fewer than one (1) potential Grand Prize winner will be selected. 

The potential Finalist Prize winners will be notified on or around March 11, 2011; the potential Grand Prize winner will be notified on or around May 4, 2011. 

UP TO EIGHT (8) FINALIST PRIZES: A trip for the winner to Hong Kong and the opportunity for the winner to participate in the Final Interview. Trip package includes round-trip coach class air transportation from an airport near winner’s home (determined by Sponsor in its sole discretion) to Hong Kong; three (3) nights’ accommodations at a hotel determined by Sponsor in its sole discretion (single room, double occupancy); and the opportunity for the winner to participate in the Final Interview (all details of opportunity determined by Sponsor in its sole discretion. Approximate Retail Value (“ARV”): $2,330 USD. Winner must travel on April 11, 2011 and return on April 14, 2011 or prize will be forfeited in its entirety. 

UP TO ONE (1) GRAND PRIZES: Unlimited Economy Class travel for winner via Sponsor or Hong Kong Dragon Airlines Limited (“Dragonair”) operated flights for eighty (80) days between June 1, 2011 and August 31, 2011, with no repeated routes (“Eligible Travel”), up to three (3) nights’ accommodations at a hotel determined by Sponsor in its sole discretion at each destination city chosen by the winner (single room, double occupancy accommodations); travel insurance for all Eligible Travel (all details regarding travel insurance provided to be determined by Sponsor in its sole discretion); and $2,400 HKD allowance per day for meals and a $400 HKD allowance per day for local transportation (total allowance value not to exceed $76,800 HKD from the June 1, 2011 through August 31, 2011 time period). All Eligible Travel is subject to flight and booking availability. Approximate Retail Value (“ARV”): $36,846 USD.

For All Prizes: Travel must be round-trip.

Cathay Pacific 80 Days of Travel Contest

 

Loyalty Traveler Analysis:

The grand prize flight rules state all travel must be roundtrip and no repeated routes.

The prize includes:

  • up to three hotel nights at each destination city in a 4-star or higher hotel and
  • $2,400 Hong Kong Dollars (US$308) daily meal allowance and
  • $400HKD (US$51) daily ground transportation allowance. 

That seems like a substantial daily meal allowance. 

I certainly feel up to flying around the world in economy class this summer on Cathay Pacific and Dragon Air. The $300 daily meals allowance would even make airport lounge access unnecessary.

Hyatt Gold Passport is currently offering 409 bonus offers at 273 hotels. That is an impressive number of points-earning opportunities for a hotel chain with just around 425 hotels.

Gold Passport points bonuses are often referred to as “G” Bonuses on FlyerTalk. These points and miles bonus opportunities contribute significantly to earning points quickly through Hyatt Gold Passport.

Most full service Hyatt Hotels offer a G bonus for 1,000 bonus points per stay, 1,500 points or 2,000 points per stay depending on the days of week. Some hotels limit the bonus to weekday stays, some hotels limit bonus to weekends and some hotels offer a bonus any day of the week.

Spend $200 and you earn only 1,000 Gold Passport base points at the earn rate of 5 points per dollar. Add on 2,000 bonus points per stay and this is like earning 3x points for a $200 hotel stay.

There are several regional promotions for 2,000 bonus points per stay for hotels in Europe, Africa, Middle East, Asia-Pacific and U.S. These regional offers are listed below. There are also over 200 hotels with an individual hotel G bonus points offer.

Loyalty Traveler Note: Hyatt promotion code links below go to a specific property offering the promotion. These links are provided solely to show a webpage with offer. These promotional offers apply to several Hyatt Hotels in the specific promotion region.

Southeast U.S.

  • Promotion Code 10GPX2 = Double Points on Southeast Stays
  • Earn 10 points per dollar.
  • Rate includes 10% off hotel dining and bar.
  • Book any eligible rate (AAA, senior are allowed.)
  • Promotion offer dates January 19 – April 24, 2011.

Western U.S.

  • Promotion Code 2,500GP  = Plot a Post-Holiday Winter Getaway promotion.
  • 2,500 points for stays at participating hotels in California, Pacific Northwest and western Canada.
  • Promotion offer dates January 19 – March 31, 2011.
  • Minimum 2-night stay.
  • Book Hyatt Daily Rate.
    • The 15% off spa services is valid at Hyatt Regency Calgary’s Stillwater Spa, Hyatt at Olive 8′s Elaia Spa, Grand Hyatt Seattle is valid at Olive 8′s Elaia Spa, Hyatt Vineyard Creek Hotel & Spa’s Vineyard Creek Spa, Hyatt Regency Monterey Hotel & Spa’s Accista Spa, Highlands Inn guests at either Accista Spa or for in-room spa treatments, Hyatt Regency Century Plaza’s Equinox Spa, Hyatt Regency Newport Beach’s Wellness Day Spa, Hyatt Regency Mission Bay’s Blue Marble Spa and Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego’s Kin Spa.
    • Lunch and dinner 15% discount is not applicable for tax, gratuity or alcoholic beverages, and is only valid for in-room dining at Hyatt Regency Bellevue and at Grand Hyatt Seattle for in-room dining or at Urbane restaurant at Hyatt at Olive 8.

  

Europe, Middle East and Africa

  • Promotion Code GP 481  
  • 2,000 points per stay at participating hotels in Europe, Middle East and Africa
  • Book Hyatt Daily Rate.
  • Promotion offer dates January 15 – April 15, 2011.

 

Germany:

Grand Hyatt Berlin, Hyatt Regency Dusseldorf, Hyatt Regency Mainz, Hyatt Regency Cologne and Park Hyatt Hamburg. 

  • Promotion Code LH397  
  • 1,000 Lufthansa Miles per stay. Must choose to earn miles instead of points at hotel check-in.
  • Book Hyatt Daily Rate.
  • Receive 20 EUR fodd and beverage credit per stay.
  • Promotion offer dates January 15 – April 15, 2011.

 

Asia Pacific

  • Promotion Code GP643 = Regency Club bonus
  • 2,000 points per stay at participating Hyatt Regency hotels in Asia Pacific.
  • Must book Regency Club room type rate (includes Regency Club access for stay).
  • Book any eligible rate. [LT note: advance purchase, AAA, senior rates eligible, but must book Regency Club room type for bonus.]
  • Promotion offer dates December 20 – February 28, 2011.

 

Asia Pacific

  • Promotion Code GP647 = ‘Weekday Stays are more rewarding in Asia Pacific’
  • 2,000 points per stay at participating Hyatt Regency hotels in Asia Pacific.
  • Must stay a weekday Sunday through Thursday.
  • Book any eligible rate. [LT note: advance purchase, AAA, senior rates eligible.]
  • Promotion offer dates January 20 – March 15, 2011.

Australia/New Zealand

  • Promotion Code GP646
  • 1,500 points per stay at participating Hyatt hotels in Australia and New Zealand.
  • No day of week or room type restrictions.
  • Book any eligible rate. [LT note: advance purchase, AAA, senior rates eligible.]
  • Promotion offer dates January 20 – March 15, 2011.

 

Master List of Hyatt Gold Passport Bonus Offers 

The Hyatt Gold Passport list used to be a much more condensed format enabling hotels to be searched significantly more quickly than the typically slow-crawl Hyatt website currently allows.

Hyatt has 28 pages with 273 hotels and 409 bonus offers at the time of this post. 

One of the issues I frequently have with Hyatt Gold Passport is missing G Bonus points from hotel stays. Simply call up Hyatt Gold Passport customer service a week or two after your stay if the points do not post. This generally works well for getting missing points added quickly to your account.

Hyatt GP Bonus Offers typically add 2,000 points to your hotel stay.

A Hilton HHonors member spends 80,000 points for a two-night hotel stay at Conrad Brussels, Belgium this week. Next week Conrad Brussels is available for 24,000 points per night on HHonors Point Stretcher Rewards. The guest next week experiences the same hotel, same room comfort, same amenities, same staff and same restaurant. And the prospect of receiving a complimentary upgrade is increased during a low occupancy hotel period.

A shift of one week in hotel stay dates results in 32,000 points savings on a normally 80,000 points two-night reward stay. Even a three night Point Stretcher stay requires just 72,000 points for the HHonors hotel category 6 Conrad Brussels.

I burned over 2 million Hilton HHonors points in the past 12 years. More than 90% of those reward nights were reduced points rewards – either Point Stretcher nights or HHonors VIP discounted 6-night rewards. Singapore, Germany, Spain, Ireland, and Belgium are a few of the locations I stayed on Point Stretcher nights. These discounts allowed me to stay about 50 more nights at Hilton properties than if I had redeemed using standard rewards like 40,000 points for the HHonors category 6 Conrad Brussels.

Discount Hotel Rewards

Several hotel programs offer discount hotel reward nights. Marriott Rewards calls them PointSavers, Hilton HHonors trademarked Point Stretcher and Priority Club has PointBreaks.

Starwood Preferred Guest has Cash & Points and a similar reduced points and cash component offer is available for Priority Club at IHG properties and Goldpoints Plus for Carlson Hotels’ Radisson and Country Inn.

There are differences in each of these program’s offers. Here is a summary of how each offer works and what you can reasonably expect to find.

Three categories of hotel reward discounts.

Limited Date Discounts

  • IHG PointBreaks = 5,000 points per free reward night. (IHG reward nights are normally 10,000 to 40,000 points per night.)
  • Marriott Rewards PointSavers = discount to next lower hotel category reward level; for example, category 5 hotel (25,000 points/night) requires category 4 points (20,000 points/night) for free nights. 5th night free does apply to PointSavers rate.
  • Hilton HHonors Point Stretcher  = Pay 60% of standard reward points per night (40% discount); for example, category 6 hotel at 40,000 points is 24,000 points per night with PointStretchers. HHonors VIP Extended stay discount (4 or more nights) does not apply to Point Stretcher rewards. 

Extended Stay Reward Discounts

  • Marriott Rewards =  5th night free (pay hotel category level points for four nights)
  • Starwood Preferred Guest =  5th night free (pay hotel category level points for four nights)
  • HHonors VIP rewards for stays 4 nights (15% discount); 5 nights (20% discount); 6 to 14 nights (25% discount). VIP discount rewards are restricted to HHonors elite members Silver and higher.
  • Goldpoints plus = 10% fewer points for additional reward nights after first night.

 

Cash and Points Rewards

  • Starwood Preferred Guest Cash and Points nights require 40% normal points and cash portion ranging from $15 to $150 depending on SPG hotel category level from 1 to 6. Not applicable to SPG category 7 hotels. Cash & Points have the potential for very high savings and points value. There are opportunities to save more than $200 on published room rates and receive a very high redemption value for your points, particularly at the category 4 ($60 + 4,000 points) and category 5 ($90 + 4,800 points) award level.
  • SPG Cash & Points awards are capacity controlled.   

SPG Cash & Points chart

  • Category 1 = $25 + 1,200 points (only in U.S., Canada, Asia-Pacific)
  • Category 2 = $30 + 1,600 points (only in U.S., Canada, Asia-Pacific)
  • Category 3 = $45 + 2,800 points
  • Category 4 = $60 + 4,000 points
  • Category 5 = $90 + 4,800 points
  • Category 6 = $150 + 8,000 points
  • Category 7 = N/A

 

Priority Club – Points + Cash is a system for buying points to complete a hotel reward stay booking. Two options: Pay $40 for 5,000 points or $60 for 10,000 points. This option is available even if you have sufficient points for the hotel reward stay. This is a way to buy points at a huge discount and save Priority Club points for more hotel free nights. Buying points directly from Priority Club costs $230 for 20,000 points.

Goldpoints Plus Cash & Points offers the option to pay a cash supplement for reduced points reward nights. Category 1 to 3 hotels require 5,000 points and category 4 to 6 hotels require 10,000 points. Cash portion determined at time of hotel booking.  

 

Important to Remember: Reward stays, including Cash and Points rewards, do not earn hotel stay credit for annual elite qualification, with the exception of Hilton HHonors and Choice Privileges where reward stays earn elite qualification credit.

 

IHG PointBreaks

These are the cheapest hotels available in hotel loyalty world at 5,000 Priority Club points per night, but I am wondering if Prioity Club members have seen the best days pass for this incredible reward discount. The last two PointBreaks lists may indicate a new pattern for PointBreaks with mid-month release in December and January for hotel stays through the end of the following month. The list released this week does not include a single InterContinental Hotel which I hope does not become a new trend.

June 7, 2010 – 118 hotels (79 US, 39 international) – stay through August 30, 2010.

August 2, 2010 – 130 hotels (79 US, 51 international) – stay through October 30, 2010.

October 4, 2010 – 126 hotels (77 US, 49 international) – stay through December 30, 2010.

December 13, 2010 – 35 hotels (15 US, 20 international) – stay through January 30, 2011.

January 24, 2011 – 55 hotels (31 US, 24 international) – stay through February 28, 2011.

The deal here is any hotel on the list is available for 5,000 points. All Crowne Plaza hotels have a standard reward cost of 25,000 points per night. A PointBreaks reward night for a hotel like Crowne Plaza Denver International Airport is an 80% discount.

InterContinental Hotels have standard rates at 30,000 points or 40,000 points per night. Landing a PointBreaks vacation at an InterContinental Hotel like IC Budapest (October 2010 PointBreaks hotel) means your 40,000 points can put you in a hotel room for an eight night Pointbreaks vacation rather than just a one night stay using a standard 40,000 points reward.

PointBreaks reward nights were an 87.5% discount at the normally 40,000 points per night InterContinental Budapest luxury hotel for stays October through December 2010.

Marriott Rewards PointSavers (Loyalty Traveler post 1/26 Marriott PointSavers)

Marriott Rewards PointSavers reduce the cost of an award night by one category level. A great feature of these rewards is the 5th night free is still offered with PointSavers. A category 6 hotel reward is normally 30,000 points per night or five nights for 120,000 points. PointSavers reduce the nightly cost of a category 6 reward down to the rate for a category 5 reward at 25,000 points per night or 100,000 points for five nights.

Biggest savings is 33% and results at Marriott category 3 level where a 15,000 points per night reward is just 10,000 points when paying the category 2 hotel reward rate. Five nights at a category 3 hotel for 40,000 points with a PointSavers reservation will likely have a high redemption value for your points in excess of $10 per 1,000 points (this occurs when the published rate of the hotel is more than $80 per night or $400 for five nights).

Marriott Rewards PointSavers Chart

PointSavers Free Nights

  • Category 1 – Standard =  7,500 points; PointSavers = 6,000
  • Category 2 – Standard = 10,000 points; PointSavers = 7,500
  • Category 3 – Standard = 15,000 points; PointSavers = 10,000
  • Category 4 – Standard = 20,000 points; PointSavers = 15,000
  • Category 5 – Standard = 25,000 points; PointSavers = 20,000
  • Category 6 – Standard = 30,000 points; PointSavers = 25,000
  • Category 7 – Standard = 35,000 points; PointSavers = 30,000
  • Category 8 – Standard = 40,000 points; PointSavers = 35,000

PointSavers are also available for select Ritz-Carlton Hotels offering 10,000 points per night discount. 

Hilton HHonors Point Stretcher (Loyalty traveler Dec 3 post HHonors Point Stretcher)

Hilton HHonors published a long list of hotels in early December offering Point Stretcher reward dates through May 2011. This is a welcome change for a program feature that languished a couple of years with very weak offerings. The hundreds of hotels on the current Point Stretcher list make Marriott Rewards, at just 25 hotels currently posted as PointSavers, look like the Hilton HHonors of old.

But don’t count on finding a Hilton HHonors Point Stretcher Category 1 Reward anytime soon.

Point Stretcher Free Nights Chart

  • Category 1 – Standard =  7,500 points; Point Stretcher = 4,500
  • Category 2 – Standard = 12,500 points; Point Stretcher = 7,500
  • Category 3 – Standard = 25,000 points; Point Stretcher = 15,000
  • Category 4 – Standard = 30,000 points; Point Stretcher = 18,000
  • Category 5 – Standard = 35,000 points; Point Stretcher = 21,000
  • Category 6 – Standard = 40,000 points; Point Stretcher = 24,000
  • Category 7 – Standard = 50,000 points; Point Stretcher = 30,000

 

Extended Hotel Stay Rewards

Carlson Hotels goldpoints plus (Radisson, Park Inn and Country Inn) discount every reward night after the first night by 10%. This is the best standard discount available for two or three night stays in hotel loyalty world.

Four night stays: Hilton HHonors steps in with a 15% total points discount available as an elite member VIP reward.

Five night stays: Hilton, Marriott and Starwood all discount five night stays by 20%. Hilton restricts all VIP discount rewards to elite members.

Hilton HHonors unquestionably wins the biggest discount contest with 25% off the reward cost for stays of 6 to 14 nights. Marriott Rewards was the best discount until they went to 5th night free in 2009. That being said, there is still competitiveness for Marriott with Hilton in that the hotel category reward distribution is much more skewed to lower categories for Marriott than Hilton. For example, there are many places where Marriott Rewards category 4 and 5 hotels are the same hotel market segment class as Hilton HHonors category 5, 6 and 7 hotels.

Marriott Rewards category 5 = 25,000 points per night or 7 nights = 150,000 points (5th night free).

Hilton HHonors category 6 = 40,000 points or 7 nights = 210,000 points (25% discount).

HHonors Points & Points earner at 15 points/$1 compared to Marriott Rewards at 10 points/$1 makes these two rewards nearly comparable in points cost for the respective programs. The promotions make all the difference for the member (or credit card earning).

Hilton, Marriott, SPG and goldpoints have the advantage over all the other hotel loyalty programs offering no discount for extended night hotel stays.

Conclusion: The value of your points increases when you take advantage of discount rewards. There are many hotels offering discount reward rates at any given time.

I learn new hotel travel strategies all the time. Thanks to Kevin at Upgrd.com for clearly explaining this tip on his blog. Recently I was upgraded to Marriott Rewards Gold elite status thanks to the promotion offer for Air China PhoenixMiles members. Now that I am elite, I have become aware of this elite-only opportunity with Marriott Rewards to buy $1,000 in Marriott Cheques for 135,000 points.

The $1,000 Marriott Cheques offer is only available to Silver, Gold, Platinum and other elites in Marriott Rewards. The special rate of 135,000 points apparently is a 25% discount on the normal cost at 180,000 points. The website currently states this offer expired on December 31, 2010. Marriott Rewards told me today this offer is still available for 2011 and there is no offer expiration date listed at present. 2011 availability is also mentioned by Marriott Concierge in this FlyerTalk thread.

To redeem points for $1,000 Marriott Cheques (20 x $50 cheques): Contact 1-800-321-7396 or online https://www.marriott.com/rewards/moreRewardDetail.mi?marrRewardCode=E195&points=135,000

The $1,000 Marriott Cheques offer is a valuable strategy to know when it comes time to spend your Marriott points for your free hotel stay.

Marriott Cheques for Marriott Rewards elite members: $1000 = 135,000 points

Terms of Cheques:

  • No change is given so need to pay within $50 of total bill and settle the balance with cash or credit card to avoid losing cheque value .
  • May be used for publicly listed room rates and packages. [LT note: no AAA, AARP, corporate rates, although some members report being able to use Marriott Cheques on these rates. Breakfast, free night packages, spa, dining packages are eligible rates.]
  • Marriott Cheques expire after one year from issuance.

Loyalty Traveler Analysis:

Kevin shows a breakdown on his blog where he stayed at Renaissance Eden Roc Miami Beach for two nights and paid with $400 in Marriott Cheques (8 x $50 cheque). He spent 54,000 points for the $400 in cheques (40% of 135,000 points). He earned 6,320 points as a Marriott Rewards Platinum member on his $435 paid stay, charging just $35 of the total to his credit card. He also earned two elite qualification nights.

The bottom line is the Renaissance Eden Roc is a category 6 hotel that would have required 60,000 points for a two-night stay and he would not have earned elite credit on a reward stay. Kevin used his points to stay at the hotel and earn elite credit for less than the points cost to redeem points for two free nights.

Marriott cheques also covered his parking charges ($60) which would not have been paid for with a reward stay.

Points Analysis Summary

  • 54,000 points = $400 gift cheques used for two paid nights at Renaissance Eden Roc
  • 6,320 points earned for paid hotel stay with base earning on $388.
  • Net cost of two nights in points = 47,680 points.
  • Kevin saved 12,320 points on this stay while earning 2 elite credit nights.
  • Marriott Cheques total: $400 =  47,680 points net redeemed
  • Marriott Cheques Value of points = $8.39 per 1,000

If Kevin had spent 60,000 points he would have saved room and tax with the reward, but he would have needed to pay the full parking charge of $60.

  • $370 room rate + tax = 60,000 points net redeemed
  • Reward nights Value of Points = $6.17 per 1,000

In this example Kevin ultimately received higher value ($8.39 vs. $6.17 per 1,000 points or about an extra $120 in value for 50,000 points).

Kevin also earned elite credit for a hotel stay using his Marriott Rewards points by redeeming points for Marriott cheques and paying for a stay with cheques rather than redeeming points for a free stay.

When to use Marriott Cheques strategy

This is a particularly valuable strategy when staying at hotels where the rates are relatively low compared to the hotel reward category. Fixed price rewards common in hotel loyalty programs means there is often a disconnect in the room rate and the reward category. 

For example, many hotels in central business districts run $200 to $300 a night on weekdays and then drop to under $150 on weekends when the business travelers are scarce. These hotels typically have a high category reward, let’s say Marriott Rewards category 6, and the fixed price means that a $300 weekday night will cost 30,000 points or a $130 Friday night will still cost 30,000 points.

Marriott Cheques allow the Marriott Rewards elite member frequent guest to leverage the value of points by spending cheques when rates are low relative to the Marriott Rewards hotel category and spending points when rates are high and make the cheques lesser value than a direct free night redemption.

Of course this deal means you need 135,000 Marriott Rewards points to redeem for $1,000 in Marriott Cheques. There is also the $100 Marriott Cheque for 25,000 points ($4/1,000 points), but that is a much lower value than $1,000 Marriott Cheques for 135,000 points ($7.40/1,000 points).  

This might be a good time to consider a Marriott Rewards Visa if you do not spend more than $5,000 a year on Marriott stays.

Certainly Marriott Cheques are not a strategy for everyone, but they are a useful option for the Marriott Rewards frequent guest with a big account balance.

Hyatt Resorts has a sale at 21 U.S. and Caribbean properties for stays through March 31, 2011.  This 48-hour sale started at midnight yesterday and ends at 11:59pm Central time tonight.

  • Special Offer Code: R48HY
  • Full non-refundable prepayment required.
  • 25% discount based on Hyatt Daily Rate.
  • Valid for hotel stays through March 31, 2011
  • Book by 11:59pm central time Wednesday January 26.

Hotels and dates I checked were lower than AAA rates.  Price compare since AAA rates often include breakfast and that is a rate consideration if you are not Hyatt Gold Passport Diamond with complimentary breakfast benefit. And AAA rates have more flexible cancellation policy.

Hyatt Resorts sale rates are “Use It or Lose It” rates, so keep that in mind when booking a $1,000 hotel stay. Trip insurance can be useful.

Hyatt Resorts Sale reservations link.

Participating Hyatt Resorts:

Caribbean

Comments are off for this article

Marriott Rewards PointSavers discount the cost of a hotel reward night by one category level.  Book three nights at a category 5 hotel and only pay the category 4 reward price – 20,000 points instead of 25,000 points per night. PointSavers are available at select hotels. Some hotels currently have PointSavers dates listed into December 2011.

The current list is limited with only 20 hotels in the U.S. and 5 international hotels. But this is a great opportunity for a winter vacation in Michigan or spring in Cologne, Germany if you are in the area.

Ritz-Carlton Hotels also participate in PointSavers, however, there has been a dramatic decline in participation since the September 2010 launch of Ritz Carlton Rewards. The current list has only Ritz Carlton Seoul Korea and only for two single night dates in January and February.

On a side note: I notice two new Ritz-Carlton Hotels added since launch of Ritz-Carlton Rewards in September 2010. 

  Both hotels enter the system at the top Tier 5 for 70,000 points a night.

I guess entry at the Tier 5 top of the reward chart is appropriate for Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong since it will occupy the 102nd to 118th floors and hold the distinction of the tallest hotel in the world when it opens in March 2011.

Marriott PointSavers Reward Chart

The Marriott Rewards system for PointSavers means the discount is lower as the reward category increases in Ritz-Carlton Rewards. Marriott Rewards category 3 and Ritz-Carlton Rewards category 1 hotels are the sweet spot in the PointSavers system for the maximum 33% points savings.

At the top three Marriott categories of 6, 7 and 8 and Ritz-Carlton Tiers 4 and 5, the PointSavers discount falls below 20% overall.

Marriott PointSavers

United States

Arizona

Marriott Vacation Club  Canyon Villas, Phoenix (Marriott Rewards category 6)

  • - January 30 – February 13, 2011

The Buttes, A Marriott Resort, Tempe (Marriott Rewards category 5)

  • - May 23 – September 5, 2011
  • - November 18-27, 2011
  • - December 16 – 25, 2011

 

California

Marriott Vacation Club  Desert Springs Villas II, Palm Desert  (Marriott Rewards category 6)

  • - April 30 – May 13, 2011

Marriott Vacation Club Shadow Ridge I-The Villages, Palm Desert (Marriott Rewards category 6)

  • - January 2 – March 6, 2011
  • - April 30 – May 25, 2011

Napa Valley Hotel and Spa

  • - October 31 – March 31, 2011 (Sundays – Thursday)

San Francisco Marriott Fisherman’s Wharf

  • - January 13 – February 13, 2011
  • - February 18–27, 2011
  • - March 4–16, 2011
  • - March 22–31, 2011

Warner Center Marriott Woodland Hills

  • - January 7, 2011 – December 30, 2011 (weekends only)

 

Florida

World Golf Village Renaissance St. Augustine Resort

  • - February 2-18, 2011
  • - February 24 – March 5, 2011

Hawaii

Kaua’i Marriott Resort

  • - March 27 – April 6, 2011
  • - May 1-15, 2011
  • - June 1-15, 2011
  • - August 15-31, 2011

 

Michigan

Courtyard Detroit Dearborn

  • December 15, 2010 – March 31, 2011 (except 12/31/10, 1/9/11-1/12/11)

Courtyard Detroit Troy

  • - December 15 – March 31, 2011 (except 12/31/10, 1/13/11-1/15/11) 

Courtyard Detroit Warren

  • - December 15, 2010 – March 31, 2011 (except 12/31/10)

Residence Inn Detroit Warren

  • - December 15, 2010 – March 31, 2011 (except 12/31/10) 

Residence Inn Dearborn

  • December 15, 2010 – March 31, 2011 (except 12/31/10 & 1/9/11-1/12/11)

The Dearborn Inn

  • - December 15, 2010 – March 31, 2011 (except 12/31/10 & 1/9/11-1/12/11) 

Troy Marriott 

  • December 15, 2010 – March 31, 2011 (except 12/31/10, 1/14/11-1/15/11, 1/21/11-1/22/11 & 2/17/11-2/19/11)

 

New Jersey

SpringHill Suites Ewing Princeton South

  • - December 17, 2010 – February 5, 2011

New York

Springhill Suites Brookhaven

  • - January 1 – March 26, 2011

North Carolina

Renaissance Charlotte Suites

  • - February 3-6, 12-14, 20-22, 27, 2011
  • - March 6-7, 10-14, 20-21, 24, 26-27, 31, 2011 

Texas

Houston Marriott South at Hobby Airport

  • - January 10 – February 28, 2011

 

International

Denmark

Copenhagen Marriott Hotel

  • - December 10, 2010 – April 10, 2011

Germany

Cologne Marriott Hotel 

  • - April 18 – May 1, 2011 

Renaissance Cologne Hotel

  • - January 1-16, 2011
  • - April 18 – May 1, 2011

 

India

Renaissance Mumbai Convention Centre Hotel

  • - February 15-28, 2011
  • - March 1st March 31,2011

South Korea

The Ritz Carlton, Seoul

  • - January 29
  • - February 28, 2011

Any Hotel Anywhere American Express gift cards have increased in Priority Club points cost. For cards at the $200 and $250 level the price increase is 20% more points.

Priority Club is unique in letting members redeem points for hotels in other chains. One of the high value offers from Priority Club is the ability to redeem points for prepaid American Express hotel gift cards that can be used worldwide at hotels accepting American Express. This is not a credit card, so you can’t use these cards to hold a room requiring a credit card on file.

Any Hotel, Anywhere prepaid American Express cards come in five denominations for US members.

New Price for Any Hotel, Anywhere Cards

  • $100 = 33,000 points (1,000 points = $3.03 cash)
  • $125 = 39,000 points (1,000 points = $3.20 cash)
  • $150 = 45,000 points (1,000 points = $3.33 cash)
  • $200 = 60,000 points (1,000 points = $3.33 cash)
  • $250 = 72,000 points (1,000 points = $3.47 cash)

Old Price for Any Hotel, Anywhere Cards

  • $100 = 29,000 points (1,000 points = $3.45 cash)
  • $125 = 34,000 points (1,000 points = $3.67 cash)
  • $150 = 39,000 points (1,000 points = $3.85 cash)
  • $200 = 49,000 points (1,000 points = $4.08 cash)
  • $250 = 59,000 points (1,000 points = $4.24 cash)

One of the big advantages of these gift cards is the ability to earn loyalty member benefits and credit with another hotel chain by making reservations through the competing hotel’s normal reservations, then paying for the stay with your Priority Club purchased AmEx gift card.

Gift cards expire one year after issuance.

Link: FlyerTalk thread gives anecdotal evidence for value of these cards.

Related Loyalty Traveler Post:

Priority Club’s New Hotels Anywhere Rate Analysis (May 20, 2010)

Hotels Anywhere is a different Priority Club program allowing hotels in other chains to be booked online using Priority Club points. There are some hotels, particularly Hilton brands that are available for fewer Priority Club points than points HHonors charges members.

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